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Impressive Georgian Emerald Paste Parure in Box


At the dawn of Regency England alongside Napoleon’s crest of power, a truly breathtaking parure of jewelry was created. Peaking inside the cover of the original wood, red leather, and cream silk-lined box, one glimpses the height of refinement and classical elegance. Napoleon’s essentially religious fervor in respect to classical antiquities fueled the elite’s interest and greatly influenced the aesthetic sense of couture of the time.

Thus was born an era of gossamer white cotton muslin empire gowns and upswept Grecian coiffures - all of which may be seen in the portrait of Madame Recamier painted by Jean-Louis David. What an amazing painting and such an influential woman—the couch known as the Recamier was named after the Madame.

With this, suites of jewelry became de rigueur for the fashionable – frequently comprised of bracelets, brooches, tiaras, earrings, and necklaces. Here we have every piece except for a tiara. However, instead there are several surprising additions. Fashioned of a striking Colombian emerald-like hue of blue green paste and 9k gold, the set’s theme is of the rivière. The rivière (French for river) is composed of single stones, gems or pastes, graduated and formed in a line using minimal metalwork, mounts or bezels. Ribbons of blue-green pastes form the necklace and two identical bracelets (can be joined to wear as a choker) which are often worn on each wrist or doubled onto one wrist; a brooch pendant with drop; and a pair of earrings that makes three earrings – highly unusual and rare.

Day night earrings are integral to the suite, and can be worn singly with only the top or alternatively, added to with removable teardrop shaped drops and additional shorter drops of two rectangular pastes. Three versatile profiles to fit the mood or costume. The brooch also hooks onto the necklace or can be worn separately. The screwback ear fittings are of a later date and we can easily change these to shepherd's hook ear wires for no charge. Versatility in jewelry was a prized trait and this suite offers numerous combinations.

Juxtaposing the linearity of the other pieces, the brooch is a treat with clusters of pastes – both rounds and rectangular cuts. Forming cruciform shapes, it is a visual play against the more classical set. Also in evidence is a linear chain anchoring the bottom drop. Each piece is entirely hand worked and every stone is, of course, hand cut and faceted. All are set as open backed and the bezel is a crimped collet of 9k gold.

Color is most certainly one distinction for paste and this one is outstanding for its richness and hue of blue-green. Blending with so many skin tones, the shade is full-bodied and dark, soft not stark. Singly or en masse, the parure is worthy of any museum collection. Dating to circa 1810, it is possibly English in origin. Please refer to the tome "Understanding Jewelry” by Daneilla Mascetti and David Bennett pages 67-87 for several examples of rivières and of parures of jewelry from this period as well as “Fabulous Costume Jewelry” by Vivienne Becker page 25 for a similar suite.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: Please remember that each paste is hand cut; all links slightly vary as to the artist’s touch. The necklace graduates in size from 5/8 of an inch by ½ of an inch (1.6 cm by 1.2 cm) to more than 5/16 of an inch by 5/16 of an inch (0.8 cm by 0.7 cm). There is a small loop at the top of the main stone for attaching the brooch when desired. Total length is 16-3/8 inches (41.7 cm). It drapes beautifully on the body and over the collarbone. The brooch measures 2-5/8 inches long by more than 1-3/8 inches wide (6.6 cm by 3.6 cm). Each bracelet, when worn, is a bit less than 7 inches long (17.5 cm) and the various pastes each way measure approximately 5/16 of an inch (0.9 cm). Earrings together with the long drop are 1-9/16 inches in length by more than 3/8 of an inch at the widest (3.9 cm long by 1.1 cm wide). With the shorter drop, they measure 1-1/16 inches long by 5/16 of an inch wide (2.6 cm by 0.8 cm).

Condition is superb and near mint with one minute flaw on the back at the bottom of the brooch – a very tiny area of silver solder where something may have been added or removed. Very light general wear and patina to the gold; otherwise superb. Box condition is fair to good with all parts intact; hinges and swing curved clasps and the outer red leather case show significant wear with scratches and scruffs; one bottom edge is separating. The interior is intact although the silk has darkened and shows considerable age.

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